Thursday, March 26, 2009
It’s a funny thing that happens to foreigners who have set up shop in a distant land for a while. They don’t stop being strangers as much as the place they inhabit becomes less strange. Things become familiar and then slowly forgotten. You can even begin forgetting that where you are is different from where you came from. It can happen though, that you find yourself in a situation, a room, a circumstance, that exposes the essence of the difference and suddenly you think, Shit, I live in France.
I go to work in the vines everyday and that thought rarely comes to me. Today it shot through me as I stood in the lawyers office. Actually it was the staircase that triggered the synopses that lead to that train of thought. Yes the lawyer office, I found someone to take my public defense coupon. That means going through all the initiation rigmarole again.
It’s like getting a new trick that you know will be frequenting for a while. You have to see what they’re like, how they like it done. It’s not complicated, it seems lawyers are like all the other tricks, most of them want it in a certain way that doesn’t really vary that much from all the others. Still, each has their variations and if you want it to work out to everyone’s benefit it’s best if it starts off on the right foot.
In any case I had some papers to give him. This being france, and being a legal matter to boot, these will be just the beginning of reams of paper that will filled out and filed. I have started a new one for round two of my ‘proceedings’. But that is another story. In any case thanks to my battling almost one day ex wife I had one of those hyper clear regards on the world around me.
It was something about the black and white tiled floor in the 18th century solid stone building in the middle of town where the lawyer has his office. The wood bumpered steps, the solid, yet light looking, cast iron railing that rose and twisted gracefully along with them. The look of the double wooden doors, the details of the window frame, cut from stone. It all said ‘made (unlike you) in france’.
On another regard it’s nice to be so at home in a place that you start taking exceptional things for granted. This doesn’t mean they go unnoticed, it just means you get in the habit of it not being a special occasion when you engage in it. Champagne is the obvious example, but that is the same good product everywhere, and more just of a cultural overlay.
The really good stuff is the stuff that doesn’t even present itself elsewhere. That may not even be in the lexicon of folks out of the region. I am talking about a local product, really local, like things that grow in the wild, but are reaped in certain areas at certain times like any other crop. Vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, herbs.
The other good thing about local wild products is that they are free, if you know where to get them. In a pinch they can usually be had at the market, but that involves prices, sometimes at champagne levels. In any case when they are in season they are available where they grow and out of season they don’t exist.
Being a fake farmer in a little village, I have a high level of access to both the products exact season and the places where they grow. This is not to mention that whatever particle tool may be needed (never complicated) I have at hand. Today it was a pioche. Also known as a pick ax. The vigneron has his in the back of the truck just for occasions like today.
Yes spring is not only forcing the buds to pop out on the vines, but everything else that grows is on the rise. Today it was poireau sauvage - wild leeks. We had noticed that they had popped up as we made our way up and down the rows. They look any other weed growing in the vines. And like many of the other things growing in and around the vines they are edible, and whats more they are full of very good taste. A taste that can’t be had otherwise.
We got the pick ax and started working up and down the rows again. Fifteen minutes later we each had a bag full and off we went. Everyone loves to eat them. The only problem with many of the wild products, no one likes to prep them. But that is all part of the deal, they arrive full of dirt, and long hairy roots. both of which, need to be eliminated.
The difference between being a real farmer and a fake farmer is that the real farmers woman does all that work, a fake farmer has to do it himself. Though in my womans defense she does prep and cook all the wild boar the vigneron lays on me. Mmm primes de panier.
Coming soon wild asparagus.